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Broken Yolk Café is writing a serendipitous story

It was fate that brought two people together to franchise a decades-old single-unit brand


In 1979, Broken Yolk Café was born, and it became a popular, single-unit breakfast place with lines around the block. It stayed that way for decades, until one determined regular had the idea to change things up.

“I can tell you this was all by design, I could lie to you, or I could just tell you the truth and tell you how it happened,” said Valerie McCartney, the VP of franchise development.

So here’s how it happened: McCartney, at the time the head of franchising for El Pollo Loco, was a regular at Broken Yolk Café and kept noticing the lines around the corner. She began to pester the owner, an immigrant from Greece, about franchising. He said no at first, but eventually, in 2010, McCartney was able to convince him (though apparently if you ask him this story, he will say she was known for leaving sand on the seat from the beach rather than pestering him about franchising).

“It just kind of made sense, because as long as I had been coming to the store, and I had been coming to the store for a number of years, there had been lines around the corner. So it just made sense to expand,” she said.

McCartney had plenty of experience in restaurants. She had worked at PepsiCo for 12 years and, in addition to El Pollo Loco, had also worked with Johnny Rockets.

Today, the brand is at 36 units and growing, but not too fast. McCartney said she isn’t wasting her experience on unhealthy and unsustainable growth.

“With the right folks, the future looks very good,” she said.

And the right folks are both internal and external franchisees. Broken Yolk has seen a lot of growth from people inside the system going into new markets and bringing Broken Yolk to a whole new clientele.

The new franchisees are mostly multi-unit franchisees with units in Popeyes, Red Robin, Freddy’s Frozen Custard and other major chains.

Broken Yolk’s average AUV is $2.2 million and trending even higher for 2022, though McCartney could not reveal those numbers.

“All rumors to the contrary, the full-service segment is not dead,” she said.

Regarding the breakfast segment, McCartney is sad to see the best-kept secret be revealed.

“We were a little-known secret for years — we being the breakfast segment — and I have to say, I rather enjoyed that,” she said. “It was strategic and competitive. But from a consumer standpoint, breakfast is really fun.”

The competition is fierce, but McCartney doesn’t see it as a problem, either.

“I think that a healthy amount of competition is good,” she said. “There's little to dislike about the breakfast segment as an operator.”

And that competition is helping the brand achieve growth that it could have never dreamed of as a single-unit restaurant for over three decades.


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